ITC Sides With Motorola In Key Apple Patent Suit

Back in fall 2010, Apple filed suit against Motorola alleging that the company was violating several of its patents with its flagship line of Droid smartphones, all of which run Android. The case was filed with the US International Trade Commission — a favorite battleground for these smartphone suits, as it has the ability to block potentially infringing devices from import into the United States.

Today, Motorola has gotten some good news: the ITC has released its initial determination on the case, and it is ruling in Motorola’s favor. The news was first broken by CNet. As the CNet article reports, this is only an initial determination, and won’t become final until it’s been voted on by the ITC’s full committee.

Of course, this is only one of the legal assaults Apple has unleashed on Android hardware partners — its other targets include major vendors Samsung and HTC. But while Apple’s spray of attacks may have initially seemed like they could pose a major obstacle to the growth of Android, the courts haven’t been particularly cooperative in its mission to destroy Google’s smartphone platform.

Last month a judge ruled in Apple’s favor in its case against HTC, but the ‘win’ only applied to minor patents that HTC says it has already worked around. Likewise, while Samsung temporarily had its Galaxy Tab 10.1 banned in the European Union for looking too much like the iPad, it managed to work around those issues, in part by adding a thicker bezel (yes, really).

In light of the news, Motorola issued the following release:

Motorola Mobility Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: MMI) (“Motorola Mobility”) today announced that it has received notice that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) in the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) action brought by Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) against Motorola Mobility has issued an initial determination. The ALJ ruled in favor of Motorola Mobility, finding no violation for any of the three Apple patents listed in Apple’s suit.

“We are pleased with today’s favorable outcome for Motorola Mobility,” said Scott Offer, senior vice president and general counsel of Motorola Mobility. “Motorola Mobility has worked hard over the years to develop technology and build an industry-leading intellectual property portfolio. We are proud to leverage this broad and deep portfolio to create differentiated innovations that enhance the user experience.”